A funky little stay in a funky little town

Truth or Consequences.

That’s the name of this funky little year-round resort town in Sierra County, New Mexico.

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Downtown Truth or Consequences

Famed for its hot springs, this town changed its original name, Hot Springs, to Truth or Consequences as part of a publicity campaign to advertise a game show.  The story goes that a popular game show, Truth or Consequences, was looking for a way to advertise its 10th year anniversary in 1949.  They decided that finding a town in America that would change its name to Truth or Consequences would be a flashy way to gain some publicity. The call went out to cities around the country and  Hot Springs, New Mexico applied and won.  In March of 1950 a special election was held to change the town’s name from Hot Springs to Truth or Consequences.  The name change passed 1294 in favor, 295 against and the host of the popular game show flew to the newly named town to broadcast an episode of the game show – on April Fools Day.  The publicity stunt worked and the name stuck.

IMG_20190226_115835898_2In 2019, Truth or Consequences is known more for Elephant Butte Lake, hot springs resorts, art galleries, and the newly arrived Spaceport America. Approximately 6,000 people still live in Truth or Consequences (we call it T or C for short) and there are a surprising number of things to enjoy in this little city with the big name.

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Private soaking tub at the Blackstone Hot Springs

There are a number of hotels in the area, but if you find yourself in T or C, you’d be wise to check out one of the many hot springs resort hotels in the area.  On this trip I stayed at the Blackstone Hot Springs lodge.  This gem of a hotel from the 1930s has been remodeled with quirky themed rooms.  I stayed with Spock in the Star Trek room  while my colleague stayed in the Jetsons room (PS: I prefer the Spanish name Los Supersónicos) and my boss in the Superman suite.

The rooms, though themed, are modern, clean and incredibly comfortable.  The property boasts a handful of hot springs tubs located in the common areas of the resort, but the best part of this hotel is that most rooms come with their own private hot springs tub.  That means you can soak to your little heart’s content, in whatever bathing attire you like, in privacy.

 

Rates are incredibly reasonable and the Blackstone has a lodge cat: Boris.

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Boris

Now I’m not sure what your thoughts are on him personally, but Ted Turner also has a resort hotel in T or C called the Sierra Grande.  While we didn’t stay here, we did eat at the restaurant which features a nice selection of New Mexico beer and wine.  The menu is varied and features everything from wild game to lighter fare.  I enjoyed a spa bowl (red quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes, chicken and a spicy peanut sauce) and a delicious slice of chocolate cake (ok, and a couple of glasses of wine – everything in moderation, right?)

There are lots of shops to explore and a surprising array of restaurants.  I’d recommend the Passion Pie Cafe for breakfast.  It’s small and crowded but the food is great.  And, if you’re up for something out of the ordinary, the Pacific Grill, which serves both Chinese and Mexican food alongside a salad bar, is surprisingly good.

T or C is also lake adjacent.  I have fond memories of camping and boating at Elephant Butte Lake.  Sadly the last several years of New Mexico’s drought have taken their toll.  Here’s hoping more water starts flowing again soon!

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Drought has devastated Elephant Butte Lake with water levels lower than they have been in years

I haven’t been yet, but Spaceport America is a stone’s throw from T or C.  New Mexico is probably a really great place for a Spaceport:

Great weather year-round – √

Lots of open space for rocket launching – √

A state with a rich history in aeronautics – √

Terrain that looks like another planet – √

In all honesty, it’s helping the local economy and building STEM innovation in New Mexico education. Check it out here: https://spaceportamerica.com/

 

My happy place (AKA Ojo Caliente Hot Springs & Spa)

(Private pool + kiva fireplace + wine + star gazing – a boyfriend + 2 cousins = my romantic weekend gone slightly awry)

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I hesitate at my keyboard while writing this particular blog post, for fear that far too many of you might flock to my happy place while I’m there trying to get my relax on!

In any case, this little gem of a spot, the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs & Spa, deserves some attention.  Located about a 2-hour drive from my home base in Albuquerque and nestled between the towns of Taos and Española, Ojo Caliente is an out of the way hot springs worth a stop. (I warned you in a previous blog about my love for hot springs!) I appreciate the fact that Ojo is a little off the beaten path because that makes it quieter and more relaxing.  Locals have known about the hot springs here for…well, for hundreds of years.  (You can read more about the history here: Ojo Caliente History.)

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The Pools at Ojo Caliente

I come to Ojo several times a year, but I didn’t hesitate to book an additional trip when two of my cousins came to see me here in New Mexico last weekend.  AND, while I’ve soaked here, had massages and reflexology here, eaten here, and had my fair share of wine here, this was my first opportunity to stay the night in the Ojo Caliente lodgings.

We ended up at my happy place in celebration of a cousin’s 40th Birthday.  We arrived later in the day on Sunday to a throng of people…more than the usual throng, too.  Turns out, we had just missed the Blessing of the Waters by the Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery.  The Monks make it their mission to contribute to world peace and healing and they performed their blessing at Ojo Caliente to purify the elements of the already healing hot springs to keep visitors in good health and well being.  It’s a very nice sentiment.

We changed into our bathing suits and settled into the freshly blessed waters.  Bathing suits are required at Ojo Caliente at all times in the main pools.  (You’ll see that folks interpret the words bathing suit in many different ways.  I’ve seen people soak in all kinds of get ups, but the thing to know is you’ve got to cover up in the public pools.)  If you are a fan of soaking au naturale (ME!) or you can be convinced that you should try soaking in the buff (my two unsuspecting cousins), you can rent one of Ojo’s private pools by the hour…more on that later.

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Mud Pool

There are several pools at Ojo each with slightly different mineral content designed to ease your aches and pains, bad mood, or digestion issues. The pools can range in temperature from 80 degrees all the way up to 109 degrees…you can pick the temperature you like best or spend your time moving from pool to pool as you like.  There’s also a mud area where you wet yourself down, slather yourself in mud, let said mud bake while relaxing in the sun and then soak yourself like a happy little piggy in the mud pool.  The mud removes toxins and is great for your skin.

I love the hot, hot pool and the enclosed soda spring pools the best, but you can’t really go wrong soaking and relaxing while admiring the gorgeous cliffside framed by the bluest blue New Mexico sky.  Ojo is designed to be a tranquil space (you can hike and do yoga here, too), so you are encouraged to whisper in most spots or maintain silence in others (like the soda pool). You’ll be reminded of the whisper rule if you get unruly, so do your best.  If my cousins and I can maintain quiet for a few hours, so can you.

Outside the tranquil atmosphere and magical waters, my next favorite thing is that you can dine in your bathing suit and bathrobe at the delicious Artesian Restaurant and Wine Bar.  Seriously, the fish tacos.  You’ll thank me.

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North Cottages

Fortified by some snacks and adult beverages from the wine bar, we made our way back to the historic bath house to check in for our Legends of Ojo treatments – a 50 minute massage and a 25 minute ohm inducing reflexology treatment. (The reflexology gets me sooooo relaxed that I usually fall asleep on the massage table only to be awoken by the sound of my own giant snort of a snore).  There are many massage therapists working at Ojo Caliente.  They’re all amazing and they all come to the table with their own methodology and style.  Now, I like a little woo-woo cosmic mumbo-jumbo in my day, so I was thrilled that my therapist incorporated polarity work and chakra balancing into my treatment. You (and my cousins) may not enjoy that as much, so my advice is just to talk openly with your massage therapist about the kind of massage you’re hoping to receive.

Before retiring to our adorable cottage (clean, comfy, with its own bathroom!), we decided to treat ourselves to a soak in one of Ojo’s private pools.  I am a fan of naked swimming (maybe that’s TMI, but it’s true); and I found that my cousins could be convinced that they wanted to try a skinny dip, so we rented the Heron Pool from 9:00-10:00 pm.  The private pools are very secluded and you’ll be let into the locked space by a spa attendant.  No one can walk in unannounced and if the spa needs to reach you, they do so by intercom.  We had a gorgeous pool all to ourselves with a kiva fireplace and a view of the stars.  (Private pool + kiva fireplace + wine + star gazing – a boyfriend + 2 cousins = my romantic weekend gone slightly awry).  20170402_141521

The evening was perfect for relaxing and went slightly wonky when I suggested that my cousin snap a selfie of “our heads above the water” in our private pool.  We didn’t pay much attention to the fact that (a) my cousin has long arms and (b) her selfie camera has a flash. You’re not going to find that selfie on this blog as there’s A LOT more to see than just our three noggins. Fueled by wine and fits of laughter, our hour in the Heron Pool flew by and we retired to our room for a restful night’s sleep.

While I relish the quiet tranquility of an empty Ojo Caliente, you really should experience it for yourselves.  So come on over and say hello when you come check it out. I’ll be the one soaking in the hot, hot pool.